Of Leaves and Laurels

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Humor  |  House: Booksie Classic
A young koala tries to create a life of ease for himself

Submitted: May 01, 2017

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Submitted: May 01, 2017



Not long after Scrappy the Koala had given up on his plans to become the King of all Marsupials, he decided that he would instead become a world class scientist. Or, at the very least, a world-class inventor, and create some indispensable thing and retire to a life of ease, filled with royalties and laurels. It did not matter to him that, as it was often pointed out, koalas, in general, already live lives of ease, sans royalties and laurels, of course. But that was the very crux of the thing. It was not so much the life of ease that the young koala so desperately yearned for as it was the royalties and laurels. Particularly the laurels. After all, what good were royalties when one was surrounded by eucalyptus trees? Laurels, however, were another matter entirely. One could rest, quite comfortable he believed, on some laurels.  And what was a life of ease but resting comfortably?

It came to pass, and very suddenly too, like a speeding locomotive, that the problem with collecting royalties was indeed the very problem with finding himself smack dab in the middle of a spanking brand new world class laboratory. Namely, that he was currently finding himself smack dab in the middle of a grove of eucalyptus trees. Not a lab in sight. Not so much as a beaker or a Petrie dish. The only dish was a Nigel dish, in so that it belonged to a very fat koala named Nigel.

Nigel liked to eat his leaves arranged ever so neatly around the brim of his small red dish. He was having nothing to do with growing cultures and such nonsense. There were now seven or eight Reggies in the bunch, and they all were of the mind that there was plenty of culture already and Scrappy needn’t go fooling about trying to cultivate some more.

“Why just look at us,” one of the Reggies proclaimed. “We’re all about culture.”

“Quite true,” said a tall bean pole of a koala.

“Quite, quite,” echoed several more Reggies of varying height and width.

“Oh, you don’t understand,” cried Scrappy and slumped his most lugubrious slump in the crook of a tree. There he whiled away the hours bemoaning his lot in life. After a while, while he had whiled away four or five hours, Sir Percival wandered up to his tree.

“Halloo up there,” Percy shouted, cupping his paws to his mouth to make sure he was heard. He seldom went around as Sir Percival anymore. Three-quarters of the younger koalas had all proclaimed themselves to be of some royal lineage or noble nom-de-plume. It seemed as though every Tom, Dick, and Harry were a prince, or a lord, or a sir. One odd duck named Clarence had even decreed that he should, now and forever hence, be addressed as His Lordship, The Supreme High Potentate. The younger Reggie troupe had taken to calling him The Supreme Hot Potato. They took great relish in the fact that, whenever they did, he would turn a delightful shade of red and hop about clutching the fur on either side of his head as if the appendage were going to leap from its perch and scurry away.

Scrappy peered down from his lofty seat. “Oh, halloo to you too, Percy, old man.”

“I say, old chap, you seem to be looking a bit down.”

“Whatever do you mean? I’m looking all the way down.”

“No, no. What I mean is looking down, mouth-wise, that is.”

“I can look down your mouth, but I dare say I won’t be able to see much.”

“No, no. Your mouth.”

“I can’t look in my own mouth, Percy, but I’m quite sure I can ascertain the contents without the aid of vision.” Scrappy sat up and probed the inside of his mouth with his tongue. “Teeth,” he said and slumped back morosely against a branch.

“Tea? Why yes, thank you. I believe a spot of tea would just about hit the proverbial spot.” With that Percy, who was formerly known as Sir Gilroy, and before that, Scott, although no one ever remembered him as Scott, climbed up to where Scrappy sat. Scrappy was absentmindedly chew on a small twig and staring out into the blue sky in what he supposed was a most dejected sort of way. Some moments passed and the Sir Percival cleared his throat. After several more progressively louder throat clearings and a completely unnecessary fuss over a bug crawling along a branch, Scrappy looked up at his companion and asked, “Is there something I can do for you?”

A very surprised and a bit deflated, Percy said, “What about tea?”

“Oh, no thank you, but you can go right ahead.” Scrappy sighed heavily and began to throw small leaves into the air and watch them as they twirled around and danced about on their trip to the ground.

Realizing now that there was to be no tea and most definitely, no biscuits to go with it, Percy decided to cheer up his former benefactor with a bit of gossip. “Have you heard about those fellows two trees over?”

‘No,” sighed Scrappy, letting his head hang backward and roll from side to side with the movements of the tree.

“Seems a group of these chaps has taken to calling their little cadre the Potent Eight. A rather high opinion of themselves, don’t you think?” Percy crossed his short furry arms and waited for Scrappy’s incensed reply and scathing retort on the subject. When none was forthcoming, he added, “I’m not even sure that there are actually eight of them. To be perfectly honest, it’s mostly just one koala that seems to be causing all the fuss.”

He is the potentate.” Explained Scrappy, still looking off into the distance.

“Goodness sakes. He is, is he?” Percy scratched an ear. “He’s all eight of them?”

“No, it’s not Izzy. I think he is called Clarence.” Then as an afterthought, “What a stupid name for a potentate.”

“Yes it certainly is,” agreed Percy, glad to have his friend chatting. “It’s bad enough with six or seven Reggies milling about, now go and throw in eight loitering Clarences.” He threw his arms up in a show of exasperation. “Why, before you know it, we all will be Frank.”

“I’m always frank,” said Scrappy matter-of-factly.

“You are?” asked the other, not convinced.

“I try to be. I think things would be a lot better if we all tried to be frank, frankly speaking. At least, whenever possible.”

“All of us?” Percy was incredulous.

“Naturally. We would all have to be candid or it just wouldn’t work.” Scrappy was standing up now, turning his head ever so slightly as he struck his most professorial pose.

“Candice?” asked Percival the Younger, as he kept one-eyed focused on the ground where Percival the Elder- or original- was now approaching with his ever-present companion, Tuffy.

“Yes. We would all need to be forthright. Both male and female koalas. Both old and young alike.” Scrappy was now strutting back and forth on his branch with his furry little hands interlocked behind his back. This was his lecturing walk and he had practiced it often perchance he won the Nobel or some other such doo-dad that he could display on the branch directly above his lecturing branch, as he had just now decided to name the particular limb that he had been previously languishing on his state of despair.

“Oh, I think I’ve got it now,” said Percy with a cheerful lilt. “The boy koalas could be Frank and the girl Koalas would all be Candice.” But it didn’t matter whether he had got it or not. Scrappy was now off at a near trot up and down the lecturing branch. He had completely forgotten about laboratories and Petrie dishes and even grand inventions designed to make a koala's life all the more better.

Scrappy came to a sudden halt, and with a reproachful look at Percy, he said, “It wouldn’t do for any of us to be reticent.”

Percy jumped to his feet. “Here, here. I concur. Why I didn’t want to say anything, but seeing as you have already mentioned it, cat out of the bag and all that rot, I have to admit it now, that Rita’s scent is, well, to put it mildly, a bit off. Just yesterday morning, I was with her and an assortment of Reggies three trees down on the left and I found her to be rather malodorous. No one would say anything, but it was most definitely the elephant in the room, or tree rather.”

“What’s this about elephants in the trees?” asked the old Percy, appearing as if from thin air.

“Smelly elephants,” echoed Tuffy pushing a branch away from his face.

“Malodorous elephants,” reiterated Percy the first.

“You must be frank,” said Scrappy poking the older Percival in the chest.

“Well, he’s not,” said a defending Tuffy. “He’s …”

“Candice?” the young Percy interjected.

“You know perfectly well that Frank and Candice are on vacation. What I want to know is, who the Hell is smuggling stinky pachyderms up these trunks.” old Percival demanded.

“I’ve never laid eyes on a single pack of derms let alone a whole trunkful,” whined the younger Percy.

“Listen, you are all missing the point. We must be completely guileless,” Scrappy insisted, throwing his hands in the air.

“I am,” squeaked the young Percy. “I haven’t any guiles or derms.”

“We must all be honest koalas.”

“I am, I am.”

‘Then where is the elephant?” asked the older Percy.

“What elephant?” asked Scrappy. “You are beginning to try my patience, you old goat.”

“Patience isn’t on trial here,” stated the older koala. “I haven’t even seen Patience all week.”

“You shouldn’t be seeing any patients,” gasped young Percy. “Why you aren’t even a doctor.”

It was at this point in the argument that they all, having crowded together some ways out on the lecturing branch, began poking and pushing one another. The branch, not having the necessary strength to carry the weight of four koalas, began to sway and dip. The ensuing ruckus brought out many other koalas, who sat on branches of neighboring trees quietly munching eucalyptus leaves and watching the spectacle. The ruckus grew into a row and the row grew into a brouhaha. Ostensibly, the tree had the last word and sacrificed a limb in order to restore the previously prevailing peace.

With a loud snap, the branch broke and it and four koalas plummeted to the ground. The tree, not wanting to be the bad guy in all of this, made a somewhat feeble attempt to save the koalas by thumping them repeatedly with its lower branches, slowing their descent, until the ground finally decided to step in and break their fall. Beaten, buffeted, and black and blue, the koalas sat on the ground rubbing their various bumps and bruises. Scrappy picked himself up and tested each of his appendages gingerly to make sure that they were still attached and in proper working order. Satisfied that he was going to live and that he had sustained no permanent damage, he made his way back to the tree, and slowly began to climb back up. He no longer had any thoughts of laboratories or inventions. It was quite apparent that trying to live a life of ease was much too dangerous for a little koala. Although, it would be nice to have a soft bunch of laurels to rest on.

© Copyright 2018 Terrence Lee. All rights reserved.

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